BY VALERIE VICTOR
All escalator use throughout York College has been temporarily suspended. “The escalators need an enhanced safety upgrade; all of them,” said Executive Director of Facilities and Planning, James Minto. New York City safety inspections revealed that all eight escalators need upgraded safety features to meet the current requirements of NYC Department of Buildings.
After inspection, two emails were forwarded to students and faculty briefly explaining the issue through York College email blasts from Minto. The first email informed students and faculty of the discontinuation of all vertical transportation, while the second estimated safety upgrades would begin on Oct. 19. To date, safety upgrades have yet to commence, and there are no working escalators on campus.
Safety upgrades were supposed to begin approximately two weeks ago according to Minto. After further delay on repairs, Minto contacted the state officials overseeing the repairs to determine when safety upgrades and repairs could begin.
“Timelines are always subject to being shifted around. We were hoping the repairs would start last week,” said Minto. “We have discussed upgrades with the maintenance organization and they are in the process of building them or receiving shipments of enhanced features like emergency stop buttons and other features.”
The discontinuation of escalator use throughout the campus have brought forth a number of complaints. Two category code 63 open complaints classified as “elevator defective-inoperative” status were filed, according to the New York City Department of Buildings, on Nov. 17. One complaint detailed that both escalators in the rear and front of the Academic Core building have been out of service since the beginning of September.
“I didn’t know it was a safety issue, I thought it was just broken and the school wasn’t fixing it,” said Jeffrey Taylor, a Political Science major. “It’s a little bit of a hassle because everyone is using the same staircase and it just looks bad.”
Many students feel upset because they aren’t aware that safety is what keeps the escalators out of use.
“We’ve blocked off the escalators. We really need the students, faculty, and everyone in the building to observe the signs and not walk on the escalators,” said Minto “What I’ve noticed is that the students, probably out of frustration, blow through the barricades because it’s quicker than going to the stairs and quicker than going to the elevators.”
Students and faculty are encouraged to use the stairs and elevators and remain off of the escalators to avoid any possible injuries because the escalators are not safe to use even if they are disabled and not running. Minto explained that a ready and available freight elevator will be used for students and faculty to get between the third and fourth floors in addition to the already existing elevators.
The six escalators in the north side of the academic core building are the only escalators that will receive the required safety enhancements. The two escalators in the south side of the building will not receive the upgrades. “They have stairs that run parallel. We’ve met with the student government, we’ve met with the senate, and we’ve made inference to what we would do if we didn’t have all of the escalators.”
After meeting with representatives from the school senate and student government, Minto found that the general consensus on eliminating some escalators wouldn’t bother most individuals on the campus. Because of this, Minto said a building traffic study will be conducted to evaluate the traffic patterns on campus and determine how many escalators are used and how frequently they are used.
“I guess the ones by the stairs aren’t necessary,” said Taylor. “I wouldn’t mind that. It’s just the ones on the other side of the building that don’t have stairs next to them we really need.”
“We do know that there are challenges out there.,” said Minto. “And so were looking at what is the best way to proceed and were working with the consultants to do this analysis. We will be upgrading the escalators, we just don’t know if we’re going to do all of them.”
The process to replace all elevators and a majority of the escalators, once started, will take approximately 36 months, according to Minto. The construction completion date is estimated during the Spring of 2018.
Until the total replacements are completed, Minto said that he is focused on making all escalators safe and running properly for campus use. All construction and repairs to escalators will be temporarily discontinued during finals week to assure there is no interruption while students take exams and study.